September 21, 2023   

It Was the Best ArchLIGHT Summit Yet*

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*But mixed feedback reveals struggles: High quality attendees, just not enough of them


The ArchLIGHT Summit was held in Dallas, Texas this week on Tuesday and Wednesday, marking its third annual iteration. Held at the Dallas Market Center, a venue familiar with hosting high-traffic events like the semiannual Lightovation and other markets tailored for the gift and apparel sector, the ArchLIGHT Summit strives to bring commercial and architectural lighting people together to experience lighting programs and products. attended the full event in 2021 and 2022, but this year we managed to visit on Day 2 for only about 2 ½ hours. Thus, we spent most of our time learning about the happenings at ArchLIGHT Summit from attendees and exhibitors – trying to extract feedback from the lighting people that were at the event both days. 

Exhibitor Feedback

From the approximately 58 product exhibitors at the ArchLIGHT Summit, we managed to obtain written survey responses from 23. We didn't seek feedback from non-product exhibitors which included non-profit entities, associations, and a university, among others.


Of the exhibitors surveyed:


83% described the caliber of attendees – in terms of their potential to purchase, or influence the purchase of products – to be “high quality” or “very high quality.”


• However, 61% indicated they were either "somewhat dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied" with the volume of traffic at their booths.


The data suggests that while the ArchLIGHT Summit attracts attendees of high caliber, the volume of visitors at individual booths remains a concern for many exhibitors.

We asked exhibitors if they were likely to exhibit in 2024 and we received a couple answers that were “definitely yes”, “definitely no”, but the most popular answer from the written survey was “unsure.”  Some respondents that expressed disappointment in booth traffic also indicated that they plan to return in 2024 – a sign that attendee quality trumps quantity.


Correcting False Reports of Higher Exhibitor Totals

Contrary to the published reports by EdisonReport and a comment from one show organizer, the number of exhibitors at this year's ArchLIGHT Summit was not higher than in previous years. This discrepancy is easily verifiable. Having attended the show for the past three years, and documenting the exhibitor list and show floor each time, we found no evidence supporting the higher count. Specifically, the 2022 exhibitor list cited 81 exhibitors, while this year's list confirmed only 64.


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Above: LTF Technology is a 3-time exhibitor at ArchLIGHT Summit


Show Traffic: Attracting Attendees

Exhibitors who are returning after exhibiting in past years seemed to have the more positive feedback because they were able to come in with an expectation and their gauge told them almost unanimously that the traffic at this year's show was the highest ever. First time attendees, however, and we only spoke to two or three of them on this topic, seemed to be the most disappointed.

Show organizers shared that preregistrations had crossed 650 people by the Friday preceding the event. Given that many attendees enjoy free entry, it's common for them to bypass preregistration and opt for walk-in registration on the day of the event. They also acknowledged that some individuals preregister and then do not attend. Final numbers are still being tallied.

aware archlight.jpgWhile our short time at the event limited our interactions, the attendees we spoke to expressed positive feedback with their experience. ArchLIGHT Summit continues to deliver top-notch programs, most notably a comprehensive series of lighting education seminars. Each year, a light art exhibit is incorporated into the event's theme. This year, Your Lighting Brand presented "AWARE," an elaborate display centered on sustainability, which garnered significant attention and approval.

The Monday night welcome party, sponsored by Women in Lighting + Design (WILD), was well-received by those who attended, providing an opportunity for lighting people to network in a more relaxed setting.

Furthermore, the National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) once again chose to collocate its annual convention with ArchLIGHT. This partnership proved beneficial, drawing a distributor-focused audience to the event.


Show Improvements:

In response to past participant feedback, show organizers revamped the event's layout. They eliminated outside aisles that previously faced outward, devising an exhibit floor arrangement that encouraged attendees to navigate through the space more fluidly. This change eliminated the need for attendees to venture to distant outer areas to engage with all exhibitors.

Moreover, in a strategic shift, some presentations were moved to a central stage on the show floor, rather than being held in a far-flung 4th floor room. This decision kept attendees in proximity to the booths, enhancing engagement.

The "Lovers of Light" program, originally conceived during the pandemic as a roadshow, made a stop in Dallas. The madcap lighting event based loosely on The Dating Game was well-received by those present.


Mixed Local Support – Momentum Yet to Pick Up

Feedback suggests one key area of improvement for the ArchLIGHT Summit: garnering more robust support from the local market. This year marked the third consecutive occasion where the event secured only a couple active local lighting agent partners. And this year the lead partner from 2021 and 2022, Hossley Lighting & Power Associates, took a less spirited involvement because the agency hosted its own large-scale private lighting event last month.

Show organizers tell us that hotel billings using the ArchLIGHT Summit rate at local hotels were up, a sign that more people traveled far distances to attend the event compared to last year.


Final thoughts

One attendee nicely summed up the event by stating that ArchLIGHT Summit is “still growing and now has a better plan.”  We wonder how much growth it can achieve, though, without increased support from the local market.

Today, we will be attending Light! Design Expo in San Francisco – an event organized by the local IES Section. There are 144 exhibitors cited and the event has buy-in from nine supporting lighting agents including all the major brands. It’s a more mature show than ArchLIGHT Summit and it’s in a bigger market than Dallas, but the across-the-board agent support seems to be a major factor in the event’s growth and success.

Our hope is that more local lighting companies will invest in ArchLIGHT Summit, as that would be an enabler and accelerator for future growth. As entrepreneurs, though, lighting agents have the prerogative to determine how best to deploy their marketing strategies and resources. Without substantial support from most or all of the prominent agents in North Texas, ArchLIGHT Summit may continue face challenges realizing its full potential, despite its impressive setup, program, and venue.